It’s been described as the Jewel in the Crown and will always be associated with 19th century artist Sir Edwin Landseer but more recently, Glenfeshie Estate in the Cairngorms National Park has attracted both praise and criticism for its policies on deer management and nature conservation.
On Friday (10th June), the board of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) went to find out for themselves and to hear direct from Glenfeshie’s management team the 200 year vision with discussions around all aspects of the 43,000 acre internationally designated estate, woodland regeneration, deer, archaeology and outdoor access as well as economics.
Estate Factor Thomas MacDonell hosted the CNPA Board event. Also invited were representatives from Kincraig and Newtonmore communities, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, neighbouring Estates and the Cairngorms Deer Advisory Group.
The visit to Glenfeshie by the CNPA board is just one of a number of estate visits that the organisation is undertaking to learn more about – and to celebrate – the diversity of land use in the Cairngorms National Park.
Speaking after the visit, CNPA Board Convener David Green said: “This was an extremely useful day for the Board. It’s difficult to put a value on time spent out in the field talking with land managers and learning about the different approaches to estate management. Traditional sporting estates in the Park are working hard to meet many objectives. The Board were impressed by the constructive but challenging long term management approach to sustainable development balancing out the environmental with the economic and community interest. In particular, we are supportive of their active restoration of native forests, improvements to hill tracks and other initiatives.
“It was also good to learn more about how the Estate is keen to engage with the local community and encouraging responsible outdoor access – all reflections of the aims of the National Park. This is an Estate that is moving forward in a very positive way and drawing a line under the controversies of the past.”
Glenfeshie Estate Factor, Thomas MacDonell said: “We were delighted to welcome the CNPA board to Glenfeshie and have the opportunity to communicate directly and dispel some of the sensationalised reporting which has preceded this visit. Some of our key aspirations for the estate during our time here will be to put in place the foundations to allow this wonderful piece of land to move closer towards its full ecological potential. We are very aware that we are mere custodians of Glenfeshie and as a local myself with both my families entrenched in traditional farming and sporting estate activity, I am regularly made fully aware of their concerns. I am humbled to be leading the team to achieve long-term security while providing genuine public and private benefits – this can only be described as a truly philanthropic gesture from a visionary owner.”
Senior Land Management Officer at the CNPA Will Boyd Wallis said: “The CNPA is just about to launch the Deer Framework which will mark a turning point in the way in which deer are perceived and managed in the Cairngorms National Park. Already the framework has prompted projects to help deer managers present their management objectives in a very open way which I believe will prove extremely valuable to all deer managers and indeed anyone with an interest in our deer.
“We are very grateful to the estate for their hospitality and to all who contributed to the discussions on the day at Glenfeshie. It was fantastic to see the extent of the woodland regeneration, to hear the range of views on how things have progressed on the estate and to offer our support for what they are aiming to achieve in the long-term.”